Data Sheet—Advice on Pivoting to the Future and Avoiding Disruption
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The notion of technology “disrupting” stable businesses was popularized by Harvard professor Clayton Christensen in his great business school tome The Innovator’s Dilemma. Christensen had some particular ideas about what constituted disruption, but in the decades of debate since he published, the term has taken on many meanings.
The broader view of “disruption” is at the heart of a new book by three Accenture executives. Called Pivot to the Future, the book explores multiple dynamics by which companies fall behind and come undone when new technologies disrupt their strategies. Omar Abbosh, one of the authors and the head of Accenture’s communications, media and technology group, was in Boston recently and spent some time explaining what the new book is about.
One danger in the modern economy is companies confusing successful products with sustainable businesses. Listing off examples like GoPro, Groupon and Pokemon Go, Abbosh says explosive growth is not necessarily the signal of a long-term win that it once might have been. Social media makes it easier than ever for viral trends to take off, but also to be replaced, overtaken and erased. “The market doesn’t play out in a gentle S curve,” he says. “It’s more of a shark fin, with a sharp drop off. You have to realize when something is just a product. It’s not a business.”
Elsewhere, my colleague Polina Marinova has written a fantastic deep dive into the decline of venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. It wasn’t technology that disrupted the firm so much as a series of bad decisions around personnel, investing focus, and firm culture. A list of noted VCs who joined Kleiner only to quit after a few years includes Steve Anderson, Aileen Lee, and Matt Murphy. Most recently, the firm’s biggest remaining star, Mary Meeker, decided to go out on her own. Marinova’s story is an instructive read in how success can be hard to maintain. Time for Kleiner to pivot the future, it seems.
Unfolding developments. After all the problems with its signature feature, it’s not surprising that the debut of Samsung’s Galaxy Fold has been pushed back pending an investigation. “To fully evaluate this feedback and run further internal tests, we have decided to delay the release of the Galaxy Fold,” Samsung said in a statement on Monday. “We plan to announce the release date in the coming weeks.”
Bragging rights. Electric carmaker Tesla debuted its home-grown processor to run the autonomous driving program in its vehicles. CEO Elon Musk called it “the best chip in the world.” Nvidia, which is getting bumped from Tesla, called that description “inaccurate.” In unrelated tech billionaire news, SoftBank's Masayoshi Son cashed out a losing bet on bitcoin last year at a cost of $130 million, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Hopping and popping. On Wall Street, Twitter reported that its first quarter revenue rose 18% to $787 million. Average daily users jumped 11% to 134 million. Twitter shares, which have gained 20% so far this year, jumped 8% in premarket trading on Tuesday. At Verizon, total revenue increased just 1% to $32.1 billion, but wireless revenue was up 4%. The company's shares, up 6% in 2019, gained another 1%.
Unbroken. After a short legal battle, Sprint has failed to convince AT&T to stop using the label "5GE" on its customers' phones. Sprint and many others in the industry say the label, which applies to AT&T's 4G wireless network, is misleading. But as part of the settlement of a lawsuit filed by Sprint, AT&T can continue to use the moniker.
Slightly broken. The $100 million premium podcasting app and network Luminary launches on Tuesday. Some big players like the New York Times and Spotify are keeping some of their shows off the subscription service. Hopefully, this fracturing of the previously unfenced world of podcasts won’t spread.
ON THE MOVE
Best Buy named its first woman CEO, selecting 20-year veteran and current CFO Corrie Barry to succeed outgoing boss Hubert Joly...With seemingly ever more scandals swirling, Facebook named State Department lawyer Jennifer Newstead as its new general counsel and former Bill Gates advisor John Pinette as the new vice president of global communications...Seattle warehouse space startup Flexe hired Zulily’s general counsel, Deirdre Runnette, as its new chief people officer and general counsel.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Americans who make under $66,000 a year are supposed to be able to file their taxes for free. But it's tough to figure out how to do it online. That's no accident, according to a story by Justin Elliott and Lucas Waldron for Pro Publica. Lobbying by tax preparers and a little good old fashioned obfuscation make it hard to find the free option. Here's part of what happened when the authors tried a Google search to find the free filing:
The fifth link, a government site, looked like it would take us to the actual Free File program. But not so fast! When we clicked, and then clicked through to a second page, we found a whole new set of choices and restrictions. Each of the 12 companies that have signed on to the deal with the IRS offer their own Free File product. But they all have different requirements based on age, income and location.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
How the Best Workplaces Are Creating the Business Leaders of the Future By Christoper Tkaczyk
The Best Places to Work in Consulting and Professional Services By Fortune Editors
BEFORE YOU GO
Want to get out of your head, break up the routine, see a different perspective on the world? With a hat tip to Jason Kottke’s wonderful blog, check out this documentary about the Finnish ice breaking fleet. It will crack you up. Sorry-couldn’t resist.